Russia withdraws officers from Kherson

Kyiv, Ukraine (AFP) – Russia’s military command has withdrawn its officers in the Russian-annexed city of Kherson across the Dnieper River in anticipation of Ukrainian forces advancing, the Institute for the Studies of War, a think tank, said Sunday.

She added that to delay the Ukrainian counterattack as the Russians completed their withdrawal, Moscow left newly mobilized and inexperienced forces on the other side of the wide river.

The troop movements come at a time when the Ukrainian army said that its forces continued their counter-attacks in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions.

On Saturday, the Russian authorities in Ukraine asked all Kherson residents to leave immediately before the expected action by Ukrainian forces to retake the city.

Kherson was in Russian hands from the early days of the eight-month war in Ukraine. The city is the capital of a region of the same name, one of four regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month and brought under Russian martial law on Thursday.

On Friday, Ukrainian forces bombed Russian positions across the province, targeting the resupply routes of pro-Kremlin forces across the Dnieper River and preparing for a last-ditch attempt to retake the city.

The ISW think tank also said Sunday that Russia’s latest war strategy to target power plants in recent days appears to be aimed at reducing the will of Ukrainians to fight and forcing the Ukrainian government to spend additional resources to protect civilians and energy infrastructure. She said these efforts were unlikely to damage Ukrainian morale but would have a significant economic impact.

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On Sunday, the Ukrainian military said that Russian forces are now mostly on the defensive, but continue offensive attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and on several towns in the eastern Donbass region.

Ukraine’s General Staff said that nine regions across Ukraine, from Odessa in the southwest to Kharkiv in the northeast, have again seen attacks targeting energy and other vital infrastructure over the past day. It reported 25 Russian air strikes and more than 100 missile and artillery strikes around Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian counter-attack forces in Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions targeted Russian-controlled facilities, in particular in the town of Nova Kakhovka, and carried out 17 airstrikes in the overall campaign, according to the Ukrainian General Staff.

And the Ukrainian army claimed in the Telegram Post Sunday, that it destroyed 14 Russian-Iranian-made drones during the past day.

Overnight, Russian S-300 missile strikes hit a residential neighborhood in the city of Mykolaiv, injuring three people, according to the Ukrainian Army’s Southern Command. It said in a Facebook post that two apartment buildings, a stadium and a warehouse were damaged or destroyed. It was not immediately possible to verify these reports.

On the other hand, the Ukrainian security services said, on Sunday, that they had detained the head of a large aircraft engine factory for a long time, accusing him of cooperating with Russia by supplying Russian attack aircraft with military equipment.

Vyacheslav Bohuslaev, head of the Motor Sich plant in Zaporizhzhia, and another senior official of the plant were assigned to cooperate and “help the aggressor state”.

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The Ukrainian Security Service said in a statement that the two were accused of colluding with a Russian arms maker close to the Kremlin to supply Russian forces with Ukrainian-made engines and spare parts. The SBU described a complex scheme that uses intermediaries in three countries to evade sanctions against Russia.

Motor Sich is one of the leading manufacturers in Ukraine and is a major manufacturer of aircraft engines since the Soviet era. Its facilities were repeatedly targeted by Russian strikes during the war. Engines made by Motor Sich were used to equip Russian helicopters before supplies were cut off after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014.

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